Story and Photos by Darice Whyte
“I was asked if I would write a column on English Springer Spaniels. Not because I’m a big breeder or know the various bloodlines. Rather, because I have owned a Springer as a family pet since about 1978.”
Springer Spaniels on the Farm
If you do take a Springer Spaniel with you when you ride, they need to be taught to heel and they should have an excellent recall, otherwise they may be off chasing every squirrel and bird through the bush! In the winter, in certain conditions, they sometimes pick up very large snowballs on their legs, but that’s easily fixed by trimming back the leg and foot hair. In the summer we clip down their coats as they can get hot but also it’s easier to find any wood ticks. They are able to keep up to a brisk pace, but in high heat I just don’t chance taking them in case of heat stroke.
I only have horses so I can’t speak to how they would get along with all livestock, but they do interact well with my Arabians. They aren’t ones to chase the horses, but they do like to run with them or after them. I’ve always made sure my horses and dogs are respectful of each other because we all live here. I don’t tolerate the horses chasing the dogs, although one mare will wait until I turn my back!
“My Springer Spaniels interact well with my Arabians”
Tiki and Chubbs
I sort of fell into Springer ownership. Our family had Dachshunds but my boyfriend at the time wanted a hunting dog. Although Dachshunds will chase darn near anything I am pretty sure duck retrieval would have been tricky! I knew I didn’t want anything too big as I wanted to be able to pick it up if I had to. With that in mind, a purebred liver and white field Springer I named Brea was purchased for the vast sum of $40!
To say Brea had energy to burn would be a vast understatement! She was game for anything and everything with a tail that wagged at 100 miles an hour. To harness the enthusiasm, we enrolled in obedience classes. Always eager to please, we had great fun learning together.
“I’ve always made sure my horses and dogs are respectful of each other”
When Brea was about 14 and starting to slow down I noted an ad in the local paper for a 7 year old male Springer. Sadly they needed to rehome him. I thought, “Who is going to take a 7 year old dog?” Well apparently I would, and thus Baz came to live with me.
Now Baz was a beautiful male who had been passed around a bit, so now had some issues. He loved to be with people, especially children, and hated to be left home alone. He was quite a bit more complicated than Brea but he was the most happy dog to be right by your side doing things. Of course Brea hated him because he was young and could do things that she couldn’t! She had sort of given up on our walks, but once Baz came she was not going to let him go out alone with me.
Lacey was a Bench Springer and, while a typical high energy dog, not nearly as energetic as Brea, who was bred for flushing birds. I think Lacey was just bred to be pretty and that she was! Lacey was perfect except she had slightly crooked teeth, so she wouldn’t make a show dog, but I didn’t care. She was beautifully marked, black and white with the most kind and gentle personality. She loved everyone and was happy to meet anyone.
Her favorite activity was to do the Springer bounce through the long grass. When we moved onto acreage I’m sure she thought she was in heaven. She would chase bunnies to keep our property safe, wisely left skunks alone, and all birds were fair game. She loved being a “ranch” dog. Our hearts were broken when she developed inoperable cancer at the relatively young age of 11. She was gone far too soon.
Our house was just too quiet without a dog and I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I started looking for another Springer. Well imagine my surprise when a breeder was only a mile down the road from us! My husband always talks about signs and if that wasn’t a sign what was?
I trotted over there just to look at the puppies. I know who was I kidding right? I wanted another black and white female and she had a couple. I chose one but my husband wanted a different one. I really didn’t care as they were both adorable. And so life with Tiki began.
I have always had a desire to have a litter of puppies. I wanted to have the experience and to have all those puppies to myself! With that idea in mind we bred Tiki. Imagine my surprise when there was only one jumbo sized puppy. I was thinking a few more bundles of joy, not just one who was so fat he could barely move. And so began my life with Chubbs.
My husband and I couldn’t agree on a name but he was so chubby that Chubbs stuck. Someone told me it wasn’t a very dignified name so we registered him as Sir Chubbs. Of course now Chubbs is a lanky year old and the name doesn’t suit him at all, but he knows it so it stuck.
Darice and her “Springer Family”
The Puppies aka “the Springer Network”
As I felt horribly ripped off by only one puppy a decision was made to breed Tiki once more to actually have puppies as in the plural. This time there were 5 and, I’m not going to lie, I had the time of my life! While Covid was keeping all of us at home I played with, took video and umpteen pictures of my puppies. When they saw me coming in the morning their little tails would start wagging and it was everything I could do to get something else done other than play with puppies all day!
I was told that Chubbs would be too rough with the puppies as he was still mostly a puppy himself. That wasn’t true at all! He was the best big brother they could have hoped for. They would climb all over him, pull his tail and chew on his face, and Chubbs was ecstatic. It was like these were the siblings he didn’t get to have.
It was extremely tough to say goodbye to the puppies but each one of them got a first class home where they will be loved the same way I loved them. I couldn’t ask for a better life for them.
Springers aren’t for everyone. They do shed, they’ve never met a mud puddle they didn’t love and they aren’t couch potatoes, although they will gladly sit on the couch if you will let them! In my experience they are easily house and crate trained. They are a great family pet though and are game for almost anything be it running, biking, swimming or coming with you while you are out riding your horse.
I’ve always said I will go to the nursing home with a dog by my side. While that first boyfriend and I didn’t last, my love of the Springers certainly did.
Darice Whyte is a resident of Canada. In addition to being a fancier of English Springer Spaniels, Darice also breeds Arabian Horses and partbred Arabian/Pintos. She enjoys the equestrian sport of endurance trail riding with a local club and rode at Tevis in 2016. ” We travel to the US for some endurance rides, unfortunately with the border being closed we couldn’t in 2020 and it’s not looking great for 2021.”
Darice is an exceptional photographer, as evidenced by the wonderful photos in this article. We would like to invite you to enjoy more her photography on her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/darice.whyte